In the latest of our series of mini interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Agnes Cuthbertson, who has given us some wise words of advice for anyone experiencing the loss of a much-loved companion.
1. Do you currently share your home with any pets? If so, please tell us about them.
Living at home with me at the moment are a white German Shepherd called Alfie…
…and a kitten called Poppy.
2. What was the name of your first pet?
I got my first pet was when I was living at home with my parents – a dog called Trudy. She was a rusty coloured collie and we loved her very much.
3. Why did you choose that name?
It was a family decision – my brother found her in the snow, dumped at the side of the road, and brought her home to my mum. I remember there was a big hullabaloo and she got to stay after much ‘please, please mum can we keep her?’
4. Cats, dogs or another species? Can you choose? And why?
To be honest I love all animals. But if it comes down to choosing then it’s got to be cats. If I’m honest I’m not entirely sure why, although I do find them independent, funny and interesting creatures.
5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
Wow, that’s a hard one – there are just so many. I think I would have to say my cat Lucky, who was with me for seventeen years. Every morning Lucky would come into my bedroom and look at me to be lifted up. As soon as he was in my arms, his front legs would stretch straight out and he would cuddle them around my neck and stay there until I put him back on the floor.
6. Which three words would you choose to describe him?
I would need so many more than three, but if only three are allowed I would say ‘my trusty sidekick’.
7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
That’s easy – Lassie the famous collie dog. Lassie was gorgeous and very intelligent. I always had a little cry at the end of every film!
8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
A cat – they just don’t care! They’re so laid back, sleeping all day and out on the tiles all night, LOL! They don’t need people as such, and only bother with us if they want feeding and they don’t want to go hunting.
9. What advice would you give to someone grieving for a much-loved pet?
Having lost pets of my own and worked with animal rescue, I know both from personal experience and witnessing in others, the pain and distress that losing an animal can cause. I would always advise anyone who has newly lost or is having trouble coping with the loss of a much-loved member of their pet family to talk to someone if possible. Choose an understanding friend, or the very welcoming and helpful Facebook group at The Ralph Site. The Ralph Site is now worldwide, so someone is always online 24/7 to talk and empathise with you. If the distress is severe and to the point you need more than a friendly ear, then I would advise visiting your GP and ask for counselling. You can also find pet bereavement counsellors online and on Facebook, and Shailen (who runs The Ralph Site) can point you in the right direction.
10. When and how did you first come across The Ralph Site? What do you think is the most important role of The Ralph Site community?
I lost my 10-year-old German Shepherd Sasha five years ago, and a day later The Ralph Site appeared on my timeline. I honestly don’t know how it got there but it saved me. I didn’t talk to anyone apart from the lovely people on the group for two weeks, as I felt nobody understood my pain apart from them. Giving someone else advice and sympathy is easy, it costs nothing. But it’s totally different when it’s you going through the whole distressing experience. The Ralph Site is a very important lifeline for all those in despair – either from a recent or distant loss, or facing the inevitable decision to have their fur baby put to sleep. So, so many people have come to rely on online friends from The Ralph Site for help, advice and support in their time of need. There is no other pet loss group I know of that provides such a huge, loving and much-needed olive branch.
We’ll be featuring regular mini-interviews with friends of The Ralph Site in future; so do keep an eye out every first and third week of each month!
Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support